ASEAN relaunches ‘Free Trade’ agreements

We’ve been “here before(link to his­tor­i­cal ASEAN free trade agreements)”:http://www.aseansec.org/economic/afta/afta_agr.htm. The ASEAN Free Trade Agree­ment was first launched in 1992 with an agree­ment on region trade pref­er­ences. But the com­mit­ments and the dead­lines kept slip­ping and some prod­uctswere lat­er put on a slow­er track to trade liberalization—much to the annoy­ance of the more open economies in ASEAN. Nev­er­the­less, by the start of 2002 (accord­ing to the “ASEAN Secretariat”:http://www.aseansec.org/12481.htm) duties on “most” prod­ucts had been cut to 0 — 5 per­cent on intra-region­al trade. “Now(link to sto­ry in the Guardian on line)”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/worldlatest/story/0,1280,-3235852,00.html the lat­est ASEAN sum­mit meet­ing in Indone­sia has announced an ambi­tious plan for a much wider net­work of free trade agree­ments, includ­ing agree­ments (already ‘on the table&#8217)between ASEAN and Chi­na and ASEAN and India. bq. The blue­print, dubbed the Bali Con­cord II, envi­sions a sin­gle mar­ket and pro­duc­tion base encom­pass­ing 500 mil­lion peo­ple. The goal is to cre­ate a mul­ti-region­al free trade area by 2020. It “appears(link to a sto­ry in the Finan­cial Times)”:http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1059480385123 that the Thai and Sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ments, how­ev­er, either don’t quite believe that the diverse ASEAN group will be able to achieve this new goal, or that the 2020 date is too far off. They announced that they’ll strike their own bilat­er­al deal that will imple­ment full free trade in advance of the region­al deals being moot­ed by ASEAN.

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